Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Let’s stay on the lane, Friend!

“Lord, keep me straight. Don’t let me get off!” I prayed that simple prayer again this week as I have many times over the years. Whenever I hear another story about a preacher who gets off the path and falls into some kind of mess, I pray for him and all those who have been damaged by his dereliction. Then I pray for myself. People get in all kinds of messes. One guy got arrested because of a drug habit hidden for years under a veneer of ministerial perfection. Another fellow turned away from the message of faith and headed off into Old Testament legalism. Catastrophic, life-controlling sin brings reproach to the Kingdom and to the Message we all love. Doctrinal goofiness leads precious people down paths of fruitlessness and bondage. One is no better, or worse, than the other. I don’t ever want to be in the position of explaining to the Lord why I got so far off the track that I damaged the ones He entrusted to me. “Lord, keep me straight. Don’t let me get off!”

Life is a lot like Kiddie Bowling. You are more likely to stay on the lane and hit some pins if you put bumpers in the gutters – something to bounce you back toward the middle of the road when you get off. Some good gutter bumpers for preachers are:

  1. Daily personal prayer and bible study. The primary goal is always to be a good Christian, not a successful preacher. If you find yourself only praying about your message and your ministry, you are headed for the gutter. Keep the horse and the cart in the right order. Matt 10:38-39
  2. Keep a good perspective on your own importance. None of us is essential to the Kingdom, nor are we unique. God got along fine before you showed up, and if you bail on Him He will raise up another one to do your job. Similarly, you are wonderful, but the troubles you face are common to man. Seek help from others who have been there. When you find yourself unable to take a day off because the church will die without you, or you hear yourself saying, “NOBODY understands my dilemma.” You are almost a gutter ball. 1 Cor 4:7 /1 Co 10:13
  3. Be careful about preaching stuff you haven’t heard someone else preach. You are not the sole prophet of the last days receiving special insights straight from Heaven. 2000 years of honest godly people have gone before you. Be careful about “fresh revelation.” That little puff of pride that goes with saying, “The Lord showed me…” is the last yellow light flashing before you hit the gutter. 2 Peter 1:20 / Matt 18:16
  4. Allow elders in the faith to speak into your life. That means have someone or some group of people who you respect, and allow them to help you maintain your walk and your ministry. Be accountable. You are a sheep. You need a shepherd. If your title has become part of your name in your own mind, and you are making major decisions without seeking wise counsel, you may already be in the gutter. 1 Peter 5:5-6 / Prov 11:14

Somebody Said: All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it. John Locke

Scripture Reading: Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed. (Proverbs 15:22 MSG)

I’m fairly certain none of us sets out to drive our life and ministry into the ditch. The problem is we allow our priorities to become skewed, sacrificing the important on the altar of expediency and pride. We all do it from time to time. The better our system of gutter bumpers, the quicker we get knocked back into the middle of the lane. One more time: “Lord, keep me straight. Don’t let me get off!”



One thought on “Out of the Abundance of the Heart

  1. Thank you, I am praying that prayer, it’s a good one, i’m listening to him , i know he will do this…thanks for bringing it to the front of my thinking.

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